Letters to the Editor, June 18, 2016
Mainland has clear claim to island groups
I refer to Bill Hayton’s letter (“South China Sea has been shared, never owned by one power”, June 8), in reply to the article by Tung Chee-hwa (“On South China Sea disputes, China stands on the side of history, logic and the law”, May 25).
Mr Hayton appears to suggest that since the names of the South China Sea islands were not mentioned in the 1943 Cairo Declaration or the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, there is no basis for China’s claim to those territories.
The Cairo Declaration stipulated that “all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.”
If Mr Hayton should choose to ignore the other wordings, he should at least accept that the name of Taiwan was specifically mentioned.
Both the Spratly and Paracel island groups were taken by Japan in 1938 to 1939. Neither the US, which had control of the Philippines, nor France, which dominated Indochina, then lodged a word of protest.
The two groups of islands, plus Pratas Island, were placed under the control and jurisdiction of the governor of Taiwan, and became part of the Japanese province of Taiwan.
The seizure of these islands was part of the conquest by Japan of Chinese soil in the Sino-Japanese conflict which started in 1937.
These events took place well before the second world war. By the time the Cairo meeting was convened, the Spratlys and the Paracels were an integral part of Taiwan and did not need to be separately mentioned.
When Taiwan was marked as one of the places to be returned to China, the term unquestionably included these islands in the South China Sea.
The return of these islands was formalised with the landing on them of Chinese officials in 1946, as Mr Hayton also acknowledged.
K. L. Tam, Kowloon Bay
We should all register as organ donors
The number of patients waiting for organ transplants is rising, but the number of donors is inadequate, especially for kidneys and corneas.
In fact, many people are willing to be organ donors. In my class, more than half the students said they would be willing to donate. It shows that many people are not averse to donating their organs, so education and promotion could really help increase donor numbers.
The government should distribute promotional materials about organ donation. Leaflets could include details of organ donation, including where to get registration forms, what the requirements are to be a donor, why we need more organ donors, and how organ donation can help people in need. These leaflets could be distributed through schools and workplaces.
At school, teachers could devote one or more lessons to educating students about organ donation. This would help to change traditional Chinese thinking. Students can bring this idea home to their parents.
Besides, schools could give out organ donation forms. Of course, schools must remind students that they need to discuss it with their families and get their permission.
You can register to be an organ donor and encourage the people around you to do the same. Donating your organs can help save lives.
Bobo Man, Tseung Kwan O
Bright lights not necessary for big city
The external lighting charter was launched by the Environment Bureau on April 1. Over 4,000 businesses and organisations have agreed to sign it. However, I doubt that it can achieve its purpose.
First, it is no help for some of the businesses to sign the charter as they already switch off their neon signs at midnight. They will be awarded according to the charter, but the amount of external light remains the same. Therefore, bright lights continue to interrupt people’s sleep and threaten their health.
Second, there is no restriction on the strength of lighting. The charter only requires businesses to switch lights off before a time limit, but it does not set the strength of the illuminated signs.
As a result, shops can keep their lights blazing as brightly as possible in order to attract shoppers’ attention. All they really care about is profit, not the environment.
Third, there is little motivation to comply with a voluntary scheme. The businesses do not need to sign the charter if the benefit brought by the glittering signs is smaller than the cost of turning on the lights.
What the government should do is to impose restrictions, for instance on the strength of the lights. The neon signboards should be dimmer and should use LED bulbs which are more energy-saving.
Besides awards, penalties must be applied for the excessive use of lighting.
It is also important for the government to define a maximum level of brightness so that businesses can follow the guidelines more easily.
Ella Chung, Kowloon Tong
If we overfish the oceans, we will not survive
Overfishing is when the catch exceeds the growth of fish stocks. Fish do not have sufficient numbers to reproduce. Then, the natural resource will gradually be exhausted. Why is there overfishing?
The world’s population increased rapidly from 1950 to 2011. Advancements in fishing technologies and large fleets led to higher efficiency in fishing. Large numbers of fish were caught and the stocks were not allowed to recover.
We must do something to stop overfishing and save our beautiful oceans.
Governments must ban unsustainable fishing practices. Bottom trawling should be outlawed. This would allow fish stocks to recover.
We should set up fishing quotas. We can achieve a balance between environmental conservation and the livelihood of fishermen. Set a total weight of fish allowed to be caught and pass laws to limit fishing times and the number of fishing boats.
Also, governments can set up more marine reserves and marine parks. This would help to sustain biodiversity and coral habitats.
Furthermore, the public should consume only sustainably harvested seafood. We should refuse to consume endangered species.
Besides global warming, the world is facing many problems. One way or another, every living thing on earth needs the oceans. Instead of poisoning and destroying nature, we should be protecting it.
Christy Lam, Sai Kung
Keep young people away from alcohol
I support the view of a group of medical professionals in Hong Kong who want to increase the minimum age for purchasing or consuming alcoholic drinks from 16 to 18 . This is in line with many countries where the government is concerned about the mental and physical health of young people.
Alcohol is the first step towards an unhealthy addiction and the younger someone starts, the more prone they are to encounter health and psychological hazards. Many may argue that one reaches the age of maturity at 16. But hardly anyone completes their studies until they are 18. This is the time to indulge in sports and fitness, not addiction. Mental and physical maturity is yet to be fully attained at this tender age.
Many health hazards, like liver and kidney ailments in middle age, may occur due to the early consumption of alcohol. Severe mood disorders, psychological upheavals and emotional disturbances are aggravated by alcohol addiction. Society suffers due to these problems.
Alcohol among teens should be discouraged, and the way to do so is to raise the minimum age for its purchase and consumption.
Amitabh Banerjee, Wan Chai